Version Tested: PC
Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Developer: The Odd Gentleman
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
Genre: Adventure, Point, and Click
Official Site: https://www.sierra.com/kingsquest
Release Date: December 15th, 2015
Many fans have been eagerly awaiting the second episode of the Kings Quest reboot, titled Kings Quest Chapter 2: Rubble Without A Cause. The second episode continues down the same plot as the former episode, as an elder Grahm recounts his adventures to his granddaughter, Gwendolyn. While the high caliber of voice acting (enhanced by none other than Christopher Lloyd) and beautiful artwork is present in the second episode, the story takes a much darker turn than the previous episode. The game is also much shorter then the former episode, which is good in the sense that it takes place underground, but there is unfortunately very little plot and the layout of the cavern can get frustrating when trying to find items. It is an episode worth playing, but its flaws are enough to where I hope that The Odd Gentleman returns to the whimsical plot that made the first episode so special.
The setting of Kings Quest Chapter 2: Rubble Without A Cause takes place in a subterranian goblin prison, where Grahm must survive long enough to escape, all while making tough decisions that will affect the lives of his fellow prisoners. The player starts at the bottom of the prison, and climbs up to the next two levels in search of a way out. Along the way, the player encounters prisoners from Daventry (all of whom the player has previously encountered), items and tools that help progress the plot and a plethora of entertaining yet irritating goblins. The artwork of Kings Quest continues to impress, with animated characters and flowers that light up the otherwise dull environment. The setting also retains the Disney like caliber of the former episode, despite being much darker then the last episode. While some individuals may believe that the game should have had a more diverse setting, I think this episode should get a pass as long as the next episode is in a different environment. Overall, I feel that the environment of the game served this episode well.
The gameplay of Kings Quest Chapter 2: Rubble Without A Cause remains largely unchanged from the first chapter; the player must use their wit to solve puzzles and use items in creative ways, with an additional requirement of distributing food among prisoners in order to keep them alive. The player is allowed to choose what prisoners they would like to help, and each set of prisoners provides for different strategies of escape. In addition to choosing a set of prisoners for escape, the player is forced to decide which prisoners get food/medicine, determining if (Not so big spoiler, but spoiler nonetheless)
they live or die. This choice sets the game up in a much darker way than the previous episode. The biggest issue I had with this scenario is that the player is forced to go to bed every night, and each day that passes causes the other characters health to decline. Meanwhile, each day causes a new scenario to occur, where the player can find a limited number of items that will help the other prisoners survive. Because each day brought few new items, I felt that I essentially had no choice but to allow at least one character to die. For me, I felt pretty dismal throughout Kings Quest Chapter 2: Rubble Without A Cause up until about 3/4 of the way through, more or less wishing I could redo the whole episode to save a character. Although I like that The Odd Gentleman took liberties in changing up the game, it wasn’t executed as well as I think it should have been. It would have been much better if all of the items were available from the get-go, and it was up to the player if they wanted to spend time tending to each prisoner or rush through and get the episode over with faster.
The other rather big letdown in Kings Quest Chapter 2: Rubble Without A Cause is most of the objectives feel like they are just there to pad out the game, and completing a task usually doesn’t move the plot along in any sort of compelling way. In the first episode of Kings Quest, Grahm had to find a way to quell discontent among the Bridge Troll Guild, find his way across a river so he can compete for the crown, and uncover the mysterious thieves behind Daventry’s mattress disappearances, each objective served to move the plot along. But in this chapter, for the most part, Grahm is simply finding ways to manage the food supply for the prisoners ensuring their survival, while also bringing the prisoners various tools that can help Grahm escape. One of the biggest gripes I had about the game is that items scattered throughout the environment were sometimes hard to find, and some situations where you use certain items to obtain other items were hard to discern in the dark environment. It would have been helpful to have some of the items shine or sparkle, so that the player knew where it was, or where to use an item. It is fun when the player has to use their wit or creativity to figure out how to get an item, but we should not be forced to search every square inch of a level, visual cues leading to items are important because it keeps the game flowing, and prevents aggravation. I prefer less aggravation in my gaming experience, but that is just my opinion.
As for the actual story Kings Quest Chapter 2: Rubble Without A Cause, the beginning and end of the chapter are both laid out in the first few minutes, and everything in between just seems to lack the spark that made the first chapter so enjoyable. The story of the game only picks up towards the end, and then when you finally figure out who your real captor is, the episode is over. Moreover, Grahm has very little character development, as the episode is solely focused on finding a way out of the prison. I cant help but feel that this episode was more of a filler, as a means to hype players up for the next episode. I appreciate that the developers are seeking to expand the series into potentially new territories, but future episodes need to be longer, with more emphasis on the plot. Part of the draw of the first episode is the emphasis on character development, their relationships and overcoming adversity, many areas this episode lacks.
I hope that the folks at The Odd Gentlemen take their sweet time with the next episode of Kings Quest. I cant help but feel this episode was rushed, partially due to pressure from fans, but I would way rather wait longer for a game that is truly in line with the creator’s vision. I also would like to see a return to a plot driven narrative, where the Grahm we see at the end of the episode has grown and changed, and learned new lessons that will shape his character. Overall, I still recommend Kings Quest Chapter 2: Rubble Without A Cause, despite its flaws, and have high hopes for the next episode.
- Gameplay: Similar in scope to the last game; find items to use, and choose how and when to use them
- Graphics: Beautiful art despite the dull backsetting
- Sound: Limited soundtrack, but not especially necessary for the purposes of this episode
- Presentation: Overall it is a step down from the last episode, but hopefully this episode serves a larger purpose for the future direction of the series
- Beautiful artwork
- Entertaining characters
- Layout of the prison is well done, for what it is
- Little to no plot
- Items are sometimes hard to find
- Rather sad moments, up until 3/4 of the game